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Our Beginnings
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Ancestor Queen Mother Mary Carter Smith, Co-Founder of National Association of Black Storytellers.

Read more about her life & legacy HERE.

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Mama Linda Goss, Co-Founder of

National Association of Black Storytellers.

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S. Bunjo Butler, 1st President of Griots' Circle of Maryland

Founded in Baltimore in 1989, the members include experienced and beginning storytellers and others who are interested in the African oral tradition. With the guidance of Mary Carter Smith, Maryland's official griot, the founders developed an organization that would increase the public's awareness of our African and African American heritage. The Griots' Circle first president, S. Bunjo Butler, provided leadership for the initial activities. In 1990, the first storytelling programs were presented at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library and Morgan State University. Over 700 people were in attendance at these performances. The audiences enjoyed historical legends, African fables, modern fairytales and ghost stories. Another highlight of our beginnings was the storytelling recording "Griots Gather Round" which was produced by

Baba Jamal Koram.

Our National Network

The Griots' Circle of Maryland is an affiliate of the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS). In 1992 and 2002, "In The Tradition . . ." the National Festival of Black Storytelling was held in Baltimore. Under the leadership of Griots' Circle presidents Fellisco Keeling and

Eslyn Hinmon, the members hosted storytellers and visitors from across the country, Canada and the Caribbean. The 5 day conference included workshops, performances in the schools, historical tours and an African marketplace. Throughout the years, members of the Griots' Circle have been honored with awards at this annual event. Also the Growing Griots, a youth storytelling program, has produced dynamic young storytellers who perform nationally and locally. The Griots' Circle continues to network with storytellers and storytelling organizations nationwide.

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Storyteller Baba Jamal Koram, producer of "Griots Gather Round" audio media.

Karen Burdnell,

Current

President of Griots' Circle of Maryland

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Our Vision

Thanks to leadership of former presidents, the Griots' Circle has a firm foundation for continuing the African oral tradition. Griots' Circle members are active in the community and abroad. They have performed for radio, television, schools, libraries, museums and other cultural events. Our current president, Karen Burdnell, and the other officers look forward to widening our storytelling circle. We plan to produce storytelling materials, to share Afrocentric cultural information through our Web-site and to create storytelling opportunities for young people and families. Everyone can take part in our future.

John "The Kinderman" Taylor was a three-time Emmy Award winning storyteller, and longtime member of the Griots' Circle of Maryland.

The Kinderman has joined the ancestral realm. Please visit our page honoring our Ancestor Griots. Blessings upon their memory and legacy.

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